This is one of the photos passed down to me from my Aunt Helen. One of these fellows is my grandfather. I will leave it up to you to figure out which one.
I know his name was Robert Shuter Macrum. I know he came from an old guard Pennsylvania family who made their mark as millers dating back to the 1700s at least. I have an etching of their grist mill that hangs in the foyer. I know he was a doctor in the Pittsburgh area. I know he had at least 2 brothers. And I know he died in 1912 of a blocked colon. Or maybe it was something else. Aunt Helen and my father were less than forthcoming when the subject came up. They were both small children when he passed. And being from good Anglican stock, family linen was not aired in public. Anything else about him comes from my imagination as I gaze at the handful of Kodak moments I have stashed in the bottom drawer of the Korean cabinet.
I like this photo for several reasons. These young men just exude confidence. They seem impatient to get on with what assuredly will be successful decades in their future. They have not yet been beaten down by Life. They pose as men who will grab Life by the short hairs and bend it to their will.
Obviously in the case of my grandfather, Life won. And it won early.
Old photographs fascinate me. The scenery, the clothing, the rigid poses tell me more about the cultural mindset than often do words written during that period. And here staged in what is obviously a perfect backdrop of the times they were setting off to conquer, these 4 young men seem to barely be able to sit still long enough to have a keepsake photograph snapped of themselves for their moms and future generations to look at in wonder.
Old photos begin thier historical or is it hysterical timeline as new photos. While they speak to current trends when they are taken, more often than not when gazed upon 100 years later, they often become the source of much laughter and derision. So, for your viewing pleasure, a relatively current image of a future grandfather........................